The United States has rid the Iraqi people of a ruthless dictator, set in place a democratic republic in Iraq, and invested tens of billions of dollars in the Iraqi economy and infrastructure. It is now time to let the Iraqi people run their own country. Within one year of my inauguration, I would withdraw troops from Iraq.
The United States position when the conflict in Iraq began was that the Iraqi people should have the right to self determination. If they do not choose to establish or maintain exactly the same type of government as the United States, it is their right to institute whatever form of government they may desire.
Nation building should not be either the official or unofficial foreign policy of the United States. Just as we expect other countries to respect our right to self determination, we need to respect theirs. We can best encourage other countries to become like the United States by setting a good example of the benefits of freedom, justice, and opportunity.
By allowing the Iraqi people to have self determination, the United States would realize many benefits. First and foremost, the lives of hundreds of military personnel would undoubtedly be saved. The wounding of a much greater number would be avoided. Second, the military would be less extended, and personnel would no longer be required to stay beyond originally contracted tours of duty. Third, the National Guard could return to the United States to focus on matters at home. Forth, some of the returning troops could be utilized for other purposes such as helping to secure our borders. Fifth, the United States would save roughly two hundred billion dollars a year that it spends on the Iraq war. Sixth, Middle East Arabs would probably not be as angry at the United States as they are now. Consequently, the likelihood of terrorist attacks on the United States would be reduced.
There are those who argue that the fighting in Iraq is the best approach to protect United States citizens at home. I disagree. It is unlikely that the United States will ever be hit by an intercontinental ballistic missile from Iraq. A far greater possibility is that the United States will experience terrorist bombings at home as a result of angry Middle East terrorists.
The pre-emptive strike strategy of the Bush administration is ill-advised. A country may, of course, conduct a pre-emptive strike when attack is imminent beyond reasonable doubt. However, a pre-emptive strike should not be delivered to a country on the grounds that the country is unfriendly and may at some future date be dangerous. Based on those criteria, there are numerous countries that might justify a pre-emptive strike against the United States at some future date.
A return to a strategy of detente, deterrence, and containment would relieve world tensions and recover lost respect for the United States in the world community. The United States could once again be esteemed as a defender of the world against aggression rather than be seen as an aggressor itself.
Endless war is not consistent with American traditions or beliefs. Approximately two thirds of United States citizens currently oppose the war in Iraq.1 Most of our current national politicians have apparently forgotten that they work for the people. As your president, I will not forget.
1 — CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll, Jan. 14-17, 2008, Web Site: http.www.pollingreport.com/iraq.htm